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FASD in Review

Screening and Intervention Programs

San Diego Youth Services

Intervention Type

FASD Prevention Subcontractors
(Project CHOICES)

Project Contact Information

San Diego Youth Services
Kimberly Eisenberg, MSW, Program Manager
3660 Fairmount Avenue
San Diego, CA 92105
Phone: 619-521-2250, ext. 301
Fax: 619-521-5944
E-mail: keisenberg@sdyouthservices.org

Project Summary Statement

The primary objective of the San Diego Youth Services (SDYS) CHOICES program is to decrease the occurrence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) through intervention activities with high-risk female adolescents. Specifically, female adolescents who engage in heavy and risky alcohol consumption behaviors and are sexually active but not currently using birth control are targeted for services that aim to educate participants about risks and encourage behavior changes (decreased alcohol consumption and regular use of birth control).

SDYS has completed the second year of a four-year program. In addition to delivering services, a secondary objective of the CHOICES program is to integrate the intervention activities into existing SDYS programs to allow a broad segment of SDYS direct service staff to adopt strategies of client support that reduce risk factors for adolescent pregnancy resulting in FASD births.

The SDYS CHOICES program is delivered at the agency through dedicated direct service staff (the CHOICES FASD Specialist) as well as dedicated management oversight. The CHOICES FASD Specialist works closely with clients to deliver intervention services. In addition, the CHOICES FASD Specialist is heavily invested in coordinating with other agency staff to ensure referrals to the CHOICES program and support the gradual diffusion of CHOICES activities into other SDYS programs that interface with adolescent females.

Staff working on the CHOICES program benefited from a number of training opportunities this year, increasing their knowledge of CHOICES-specific skills and activities but also learning about issues directly relevant to the population served such as sexual exploitation among youth, youth and substance-dependent parents, and more.

To date, the intervention strategies of the CHOICES program — screening, motivational interview sessions, and birth control sessions — have led to positive behavior changes among the majority of program participants. Nearly 90% of program completers were using birth control when they exited the program and nearly 75% were abstaining from alcohol. These positive changes were most pronounced immediately following completion of the program.

There have been some challenges in implementing the program, particularly in terms of identifying enough eligible participants from intra-agency referrals and successfully following up with the transient participant population six and twelve months after program completion.

SDYS is pleased with progress made during OY2 in regards to efforts to integrate the CHOICES program activities into other SDYS programs. This year, some outreach and pre-screening activities were performed by staff from other program areas and as a result of these successes, other SDYS program staff are enthusiastic about continuing to braid CHOICES activities into their existing services. SDYS believes that this is critical to the ongoing sustainability of the CHOICES model in the post-funding period.

The CHOICES Program Task Force continues to develop and serves as an important mechanism to convene internal and external stakeholders in support of improved service delivery and integration into the agency. Finally, SDYS CHOICES program staff had the opportunity to work through several key programmatic issues this year and had productive dialogue regarding best practices to identify, screen, and serve the targeted female adolescent population. A detailed discussion of these lessons learned and best practices is included in this report.